By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Veteran earns diploma after 40 years
diploma in hand
Terry Browning and his wife Frances proudly display Browning’s recently earned high school diploma. Browning put his education on hold when he traveled overseas to serve in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
Cane in hand, Terry Browning made his way to the front of the Liberty County Board of Education board room to receive his high school diploma, urging everyone present, including the BoE, to stand and clap. He then briefly stopped to pose with Chairwoman Lily Baker for a long overdue graduation photo.
“I should have been in the class of ’69,” Browning said later.
Browning never walked with his class because at 17, with conflict brewing abroad, he put his education on hold to join the Marine Corps, where he said he received a different, but equally valuable, kind of education.  
Now, almost exactly 40 years later, the Vietnam veteran finally held in hands a high school diploma from Bradwell Institute with his name on it as he smiled at his wife in the crowd.
“It was a chapter that just wasn’t closed,” Browning said of his long-standing desire to gain the accolade. “I want it for my peace of mind. I did something for myself.”
Browning is the first veteran in Liberty County to receive a diploma using the program that was signed into affect by Gov. Sonny Perdue a few years ago.
The bill says that local BoEs can issue diplomas to veterans who would have graduated during the time in which they were deployed to serve in the Korean (June 25, 1950-Jan. 31, 1955) or Vietnam War (Aug. 5, 1964 -May 7, 1975). Veterans are responsible for producing proof of their deployment. Browning said a dd214 form (discharge papers) is all that’s necessary to get the process started.
Now that Browning, who recently retired from his mechanic profession because of health issues, accomplished his mission, he’s has a new goal in mind: to make other veterans aware of the program that he said has brought him an indescribable amount of joy.
These days, he spends his time posting signs around the city in places frequented by Hinesville’s veteran population and he said he also tries to talk alot with other veterans about the opportunity.
“The problem is, it wasn’t advertised very well,” he said. “And a lot of veterans just put it (getting their diploma) in the back of their minds.”
Browning said he’s very grateful to the government, Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent of student services with the Liberty County School System, and the entire board for helping to make the process possible and easy.
“I only spent 10 minutes with her (Alexander) and she did the rest. You can’t ask for more than that. She’s in my heart, she really is.” Browning said.
Browning said there was another important person who helped and encouraged him along the way.
His wife Frances, a Fleming native who has been with him for 38 years, stood proudly in the audience on his big night and said she’s really glad to see that veterans are finally getting the respect they deserve for their service and dedication.
“Vietnam was looked down upon for a long time,” she said. “It made me feel good for him.”
For more information about the program, call Mary Alexander at 876-2161.
Sign up for our e-newsletters